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Faith Requires Obedience (Hebrews 11:8)

by Julia Bruce
CEO, Author, and Conference Speaker

When God tests your faith

Can you imagine God testing your faith with the following conversation?:

God: “I want you to pack up all you own and move you and your family to a land that I will show you. I have a task for you”

Me: “Ok, God.” [I pull out my phone and open the Waze GPS app] “Where are we going?”

God: “You don’t need to know that yet.”

Me: “Well….yes….God, I do. How else will I know how to get there?”

God: “I will show you.”

Me: “You mean, you want me to pack up everything I own and leave my family and go where I don’t know where I’m going?”

God: “Yes.”

Me: “What will my family say?”

God: “Does it matter?”

Me: [Quiet for a moment] “Well, how far away God? I don’t want to go too far away from family. It will be fine as long as I can make quick trips back home.”

God: “I will show you.”

Me: “Will there be snow? I don’t really like the cold. You know cold makes those old injuries hurt.”

God: “I will show you.”

Me: “What about money? I have to work and pay the bills, provide the insurance”

God: “I will supply all you need.”

Me: “I will miss my family.”

God: “My grace is sufficient.”

Me: “What if I can’t do what you’re asking me to do?”

God: “You can do all things through me because I will strengthen you.”

Me: “What if I fail?”

God: “I can do anything but fail.”

Me: “But God, this task is overwhelming and beyond what I can do.”

God: “Nothing is impossible for me.”

Abraham’s similar test of faith

Have you had any similar conversations with God? Abraham had a similar experience. Hebrews 11:8-9 says, “By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed and went out to a place he was going to receive as an inheritance. He went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he stayed as a foreigner in the land of promise, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, coheirs of the same promise.” We find the account of the conversation between Abraham and God in Genesis 12.

The Lord said to Abram: Go out from your land, your relatives, and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, I will bless you, I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, I will curse those who treat you with contempt, and all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you. So Abram went, as the Lord had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was 75 years old when he left Haran.

Genesis 12:1-4

Faith requires obedience

There is no record of a conversation where Abraham asked questions…he simply obeyed. He stepped out on faith. Faith requires obedience. Faith requires us to have a deep conviction that God will keep his promises and do what He says He will do. It requires us to have complete and utter trust in His faithfulness, that His words are true. It requires us to believe that the impossible task He has given us to do is possible through Him when we do what he tells us to do. Abraham simply believed. He didn’t question God. He didn’t seek out an appointment with his pastor to discuss his travel plans. Abraham just went. He had faith that God would see him safely to the destination God had chosen.

Faith requires Complete obedience

The simple truth is, if God is calling us to do something and we choose not to obey Him, then we do not have faith that God will provide and protect us. Faith requires action and that action is obedience to God’s will and plan – exactly as God reveals it to us. We can’t follow part of the plan and ignore others. Faith requires total and complete obedience.

Maybe it’s your age that keeps you from being obedient to what God is telling you to do. Did you notice that Abraham was 75 years old when he left? If you are still breathing and have a pulse, then God isn’t finished with you yet.  What is He asking you to do?

Abraham acted by faith – Moses Gave Excuses

While Abraham was obedient and acted with faith, Moses had to get through all of his excuses before He obeyed God. Moses earned his place in the great “Hall of Faith” in the book of Hebrews, but before he obeyed, he gave God all the excuses of why God had the wrong man for the job. Even after the experience of the burning bush, Moses still gave God excuses:

“But I’m not qualified, God” (Exodus 3:11).

If you remember, Moses was raised by the Egyptian princess and when he saw the Egyptian taskmaster, beating a fellow Israelite, he stepped in and tried to do things his own way. He killed the Egyptian and became wanted for murder. He had to run for his life. So now, when God’s timing was right for the task, Moses feels like a failure.

The good news is that God can use our failures to mold us into the person He needs us to be to complete the task He calls us to do. When Moses ran away, he became a shepherd. God used these years to teach him all about shepherding – skills he would learn in shepherding God’s people. (Somehow I think before it was all done, Moses found out that shepherding sheep was way more easy than shepherding God’s chosen people!) If you are using the excuse of not being qualified to avoid doing what God is calling you to do, allow God to use any failures in your life as teaching grounds to make you ready for the God-sized dream He has called you to do.

“But I don’t know enough, God.” (Exodus 3:12).

Moses wasn’t focusing on God and what God could do through him. He was focusing on himself and all that he lacked to accomplish what God had planned. When God calls us to a task (even the ones that seem impossible), He will be with us, equip us, and give us everything we need, the moment we need it. Remember that God is the I AM and the I AM is sending you to do what He’s asking you to do. You know all you need to know for this moment in time.

“But, I don’t have the right abilities.” (Exodus 4:11).

Moses tried to tell God (the one that made his mouth) that he was slow of speech. God’s response: “Who made the human mouth? Who makes him mute or deaf, seeing or blind? Is it not I, Yahweh?  Now go! I will help you speak and I will teach you what to say.” What abilities do you think you lack to do what God is telling you to do? God says that nothing is impossible for Him and whatever abilities you think you lack are of no consequence to what God wants to do through you.

The fact is that God likes to call us to do what we think we are not qualified to do, know enough about how to do it, and lack the abilities needed to do it. Why? Because then He gets all the glory when He accomplishes what man perceives to be the impossible.

Faith Requires Surrender

Any step of faith requires us to surrender. We must surrender our will to God’s will. There must be a surrender of our fears, inabilities, failures, pride, qualifications (or lack thereof), and knowledge. We can surrender to Him whatever we feel we lack and step out in faith in complete obedience, like Abraham, and do what he tells us to do – without asking questions – because we know that God’s plans for us are only good plans – plans that will give us a hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11). We can step out in faith, because we can trust God to supply all our needs according to His riches in glory (Philippians 4:19).

So what is God asking you to do? Will you offer Him excuses or faith-filled obedience? Will you be a Moses or an Abraham?

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